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Soju by Hite Jinro is best-selling spirit in the world

July 10,2018
Hite Jinro’s Jinro soju was the best-selling spirit in the world last year, according to data from the alcohol market research firm IWSR.

The U.K.-based firm, which stands for International Wines and Spirits Record, releases sales records for the top 100 largest spirit brands each year.

Jinro sold 75.9 million nine-liter cases in 2017, according to a IWSR report released last week. Its sales volume last year placed it way above the No. 2 drink, Ruang Khao white spirit from Thai Beverage, which sold 31.7 million nine-liter cases. Jinro’s sales in volume terms increased for four years in a row, adding 0.8 percent last year compared to 2016.

This was the second year in a row it ranked first, surpassing such big names in whisky and vodka like Emperador, Smirnoff and Imperial Blue.

Most Koreans associate Hite Jinro with Chamisul soju. Jinro is the company’s export brand. A Hite Jinro spokesman said that IWSR’s count would have included Chamisul sales.

Two other Korean soju brands ranked in the top 10: Lotte Liquor’s Chum Churum in seventh place and Muhak’s Good Day Soju in 10th. Chum Churum sold 25.5 million nine-liter (2.4-gallon) cases in 2017, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. Good Day Soju sold 18.5 million nine-liter cases, a 1.3 drop year on year.

The IWSR said the vast soju market in Korea allowed three brands to make the top 10. In fact, a majority of the top 10 were Asian brands that sold well thanks to local demand, such as Indian whisky and cane spirits from Thailand.

The company that saw most brands on IWSR’s 2017 list was the U.K.-based Diageo. Eighteen of its brands, including McDowell’s at sixth and Smirnoff at seventh, were on the list.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]